Eating vegan about town is super easy, but eating vegan in the sky half way across the Pacific is decidedly less so. When organising a recent trip to Bologna in Italy, I was faced with a dilemma on how to make sure I had enough to eat during my flight without simply gorging on a full 4-pack of Trek bars. But after even a cursory Google search, I came across a hoard of valuable tips on the world wide web for those living a wanderlustful plant-based life that helped me out no end. Here’s my treasure chest of vegan travel tips I discovered.
1. Book the meal when you book your ticket
Of course, the most common sense way of making sure you have vegan food on board your flight is to book your vegan meal beforehand. By all accounts (and there are many accounts), what’s on offer for airborne vegans has been vastly improving of late, with many providing a variety of tasty plant-based treats. I’ve heard gleaming reviews about Air Canada, British Airways and Air India so far, with many more vegan options on other airlines, I’m sure. Choose the VGML meal for the vegan option (as opposed to the lacto-ovo vegetarian option labelled VLML). Have you had a particularly sumptuous vegan meal on a flight recently? Do tell all in the comments section below.
2. Eat at the airport
Depending on how long your flight is, it might be wise to fill up on food before your flight at the airport. I most recently flew from London Gatwick at an ungodly hour in the morning, so I popped into EAT to pick up one of their huge slabs of avocado on sourdough, a banana and a soy latte for breakfast, which certainly did the trick. Wetherspoons also has a sizeable vegan spread if you’re travelling around dinner time, Yo! Sushi’s tofu katsu curry is out of this world delicious, and of course, when in doubt, head to Pret. If you’re flying from the US of A, vegan author Elizabeth Castoria has a few recommendations in her book, How To be Vegan. She writes that JFK Airport’s Cibo Express Gourmet Market is famous for its abundant vegan eats, as is San Francisco’s Plant Cafe. Sweet as.
3. Check the airline’s on-flight menu
If you’re caught on a flight and you forgot to plan ahead, then luckily there are safety nets. EasyJet had a Food Doctor Couscous and Lentil Wholesome Pot, and a Thai Noodle Pot available on flight, and some other airlines have back-up options too. (I was also pleased to notice that they also had Liberation Nuts on board the EasyJet flight, a cornerstone FairTrade brand that I mentioned in my FairTrade Fortnight post.) Lisa Bowman writing in the Metro had a neat idea of politely asking the stewards if there are any vegan-friendly snacks you could create a vegan meal with, so you can enjoy a make-shift plant-based picnic mid-cloud. Of course if all else fails, it’s always wise to have a Trek bar to hand.
4. Bring a hearty packed lunch
Check the customs regulations of your destination first, but if you’re flying from the USA or the UK, you can carry fruit, vegetables and solid food in your hand luggage. You should beware of sloshy food with a high liquid content like pasta in sauce, soups and stews if the size of the container is over 100ml, with jam included in the list of liquid culprits, as they won’t get past security. That makes it sandwich o’clock! It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken has top class vegan sandwich filler inspiration to impart, including the Asian Portobello Mushroom and the Tofu Salad. Then bring any sauce in a separate 100ml container and pronto, you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious homemade feast. If you do need something more substantial, then Catherine Dorrell writing for One Green Planet suggests straining stews before packing, or adding rice or grains to soak up liquid. Neat.
Wherever you’re travelling, remember your Vegan Passport from The Vegan Society. It’s a diddy book (or an app) explaining what vegans do and don’t eat in most of the world’s languages, with pictures to boot. If you’re heading to Italy soon, check out our post about how to order vegan food and what Sicily has to offer. Happy travelling, ladies and gents.